‘Ostrov — Lost Island,’ ‘Zo Reken’ Win Hot Docs’ Top Jury Awards

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Svetlana Rodina and Laurent Stoop’s “Ostrov — Lost Island” and Emanuel Licha’s “Zo Reken” took the top Hot Docs jury awards at a special online ceremony webcast from Toronto Friday night.

Eleven awards and $67,000 CAD ($55,200) in cash and prizes were presented to emerging and established Canadian and international filmmakers.

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Best International Feature Documentary Award-winner “Ostrov — Lost Island” chronicles a fishing community in the Caspian Sea, where elders cling to tradition and youth look to a new kind of future. The award comes with a $10,000 CAD cash prize courtesy of the Panicaro Foundation.

In its statement, the international feature jury — MTV Networks executive producer Sheila Nevins, filmmaker Kazuhiro Soda, and producer Toni Kama — called the film “a truly powerful cinematic experience which shows the everyday reality of people in Russia.”

With this award, “Ostrov” now qualifies for consideration in the Best Documentary Feature category of the Academy Awards without the standard theatrical run, provided it complies with Academy rules.

The Special Jury Prize for international feature went to Mohamed El Aboudi’s “School of Hope,” in which Morocco’s Oulad Boukais tribe, suffering from long drought, establishes a school to ensure their children’s future. Sponsored by A&E, the award comes with a $5,000 prize. The jury called the film “a visually touching story about the realities of climate change and the power of education.”

Best Canadian Feature Documentary Award-winner “Zo Reken” is a portrait of Port-au-Prince from a four-wheel drive, in which people discuss colonialism and international aid, denouncing the broken promises. Sponsored by DOC and Telefilm Canada, the award includes a $10,000 cash prize.

In its statement, the Canadian feature jury — IDFA senior programmer Raul Niño Zambrano, and filmmakers Michèle Stephenson and Patricia Rozema — said of the film, “Emanuel Licha uses cinematic metaphor to evoke the dignity of a people and the human trap that is the international aid industrial complex.”

The Special Jury Prize for Canadian feature went to Yasmine Mathurin’s “One of Ours,” about a Haitian-born youth who wrestles with his sense of belonging in his Indigenous adoptive family after being racially profiled. Sponsored by DGC National and DGC Ontario, the award includes a $5,000 cash prize. The jury called the film an “intimate coming of age story [that] adeptly and lovingly examines the nuances of race, sexuality and family relationships in present day Canada.”

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers won the Emerging Canadian Filmmaker Award for “Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy.” The award is given to a first or second-time Canadian filmmaker with a feature in the Canadian Spectrum program and includes a $3,000 cash prize. “With one fiction feature film, and now two documentary feature films to her name, Tailfeathers is a filmmaker on the rise,” the jury said.

Annabel Verbeke won the Emerging International Filmmaker Award for “Four Seasons in a Day.” Supported by the Donner Canadian Foundation, the award includes a $3,000 cash prize. “In only her second feature documentary, the director already shows mastery of the verité craft,” the jury said.

Reka Valerik’s “Silent Voice,” about a young gay MMA fighter who flees his homophobic family in Chechnya and settles in Belgium, won the award for best mid-length documentary, which is sponsored by British Pathé and comes with a $5,000 cash prize. The jury also gave an honorable mention to Keti Machavariani’s “Sunny.”

The award for best international short doc, which comes with a $3,000 cash prize courtesy of Hot Docs, was presented to Elahe Esmaili’s “The Doll,” while Sarra El Abed’s “Ain’t No Time for Women” won the Betty Youson Award for Best Canadian Short Documentary and cash prize of $3,000 from John and Betty Youson.” Both short films now qualify for consideration in the Documentary Short Subject category of the Academy Awards, without the standard theatrical run, provided they comply with Academy rules.

The Lindalee Tracey Award, which honors an emerging Canadian filmmaker with a passionate point of view, a strong sense of social justice and a sense of humor, was presented to Cailleah Scott-Grimes for her film “Between Us.” Scott-Grimes will receive a $5,000 cash prize courtesy of the Lindalee Tracey Fund, $5,000 in post-production services from SIM, and a beautiful hand-blown glass sculpture by Andrew Kuntz, specially commissioned to honor Lindalee.

Earlier this week, Hot Docs announced that Toronto-based producer and president of In Sync media Lalita Krishna received the Don Haig Award, given to an outstanding independent Canadian producer — with a film in the Hot Docs — in recognition of their creative vision, entrepreneurship and track record for nurturing emerging talent, and comes with a $5,000 cash prize courtesy of the Don Haig Foundation. The recipient names an emerging female documentary filmmaker to receive a $5,000 cash prize courtesy of Hot Docs; Krishna named Bangladeshi filmmaker Elizabeth D. Costa, whose “Bangla Surf Girls” is screening at Hot Docs.

The Rogers Audience Award, which this year presents cash prizes to the top five qualifying Canadian films, will be announced at an online live event on Sunday, the final day of the festival.

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